Just in time for Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is this week’s #ItalianoftheWeek.
Anthony Rizzo was born on August 8, 1989 in Fort Lauderdale, FL to an Italian American family with roots in Sicily. He attended Stoneman Douglas High School, where his batting average was .468 with 11 home runs in his senior year. In 2007, he was awarded the Sun Sentinel Player of the Year & the Miami Herald Player of the Year. After graduating high school, on June 8th, 2007, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 6th round of the First-Year Player Draft to play for their minor league team. In 2011, Anthony was traded to the San Diego Padres, and a year later he was picked up by the Chicago Cubs. After a chance meeting with Mike Piazza at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, Anthony played for Italy in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
During his season with the Greenville Drive in 2008, Anthony was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After six months of chemotherapy he was told he was in remission. During his time in treatment, Anthony relied heavily on the support of his family, friends and teammates. In 2012, he established The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, a nonprofit that benefits cancer research and supports families fighting the disease. Since then the foundation has hosted an annual Cook-Off for Cancer fundraiser as well as other annual fundraising events.
Anthony still plays for the Cubs as their first baseman (in May 2013, he signed a contract through 2019 with the team). Last year he hit 32 home runs – the second most in the National League. Anthony and the Cubs play their first game of the season tomorrow, April 5, against the St. Louis Cardinals. Buona fortuna!